Tuesday, October 26


Labor Saving/Money Saving
Now that I have to balance housework and a job, I've been looking into using items that will make housework faster, because I hate the idea of coming home from work only to do more work.  I also hate having to spend the weekend doing housework.  So I check regularly for coupons online that will allow me to pick up cleaning supplies and aids to help me out and leave some money in my pocket, too.  One such website is the Swiffer website, and by giving your address you will receive a coupon book in the mail for several Swiffer products.  I purchased a Swiffer sweepervac at Meijer a while ago for a grand total of around $8 (it was on sale, then I had about $15 in coupons for the vac), and I love it!  It runs on a rechargeable battery, and works great on hard surfaces (I have wood laminate flooring in our kitchen and linoleum in our bathroom).  I am also considering the Swiffer mop to replace the old Clorox mop that I purchased back in college and can no longer find refills for.  Another website that will occasionally offer coupon books is SC Johnson.  At the moment, the are not offering coupons, but they do have other tips for money savings.  While at Meijer one day, they had a display with SC Johnson coupon books, and I grabbed three!  Sometimes the opportunities are there when you least expect it.  Another website to check out is the Glade website--they are offering a contest to design a candle, and if your design is chosen, you can win cash prizes.  As in, up to $10,000.  So it's certainly worth checking out, and if you have time, design a candle!  Lysol, if you are a germophobe like me, is a great website to sign up for access to their product coupons.  You will have to create an account, and then you will be able to download and print out coupons for Lysol products (you will need to install a Coupon Printer program, like any online coupons).  Lots of great offers.  Proctor & Gamble often has a coupon insert in weekend newspapers, which is another good source for finding savings.  If you are looking for grocery coupons, check out these sites: RedPlum, SmartSource, CouponMom, Kroger (if you have one), and Coupons.com, among others.  They all have printable coupons that you can download.  (FYI: I have an e-mail account set up just for signing up for these websites.  I don't like getting spam, and don't want to use my regular account, so I set up a special e-mail just for this.)  Hope this helps!

Saving money is not just good sense, practiced through the ages; it is, like so many topics, talked about in the Bible.  The money we have is not really our own, but instead is a blessing from the Lord.  As such, we must treat it as something that God trusts us with to use for His purpose.  Yes, we have to use it to pay bills, provide clothing and food for ourselves, etc., but we are to use what's left responsibly.  Proverbs 21:20 says, "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has".

Tuesday, October 19

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!...?

Pumpkin Patchin'
Well, this past weekend hubby and I made our yearly trip to the pumpkin farm to get the final touch for fall decorating: pumpkins!  Every year since we've been here we've tried a different pumpkin farm.  This year, we tried Lehner's Farm in Radnor, Ohio.  It was a beautiful day for a drive, and it took about an hour to get there.  It was a neat place!  When we arrived, there weren't many people there yet, but by the time we left, it was much busier.  They offer several activities, including a corn maze, pumpkin slingshot (you hurl mini pumpkins into a field with a twenty-foot-tall slingshot--very cool!), free hayrides and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.  Well, I grabbed a wagon and went to town!  I browsed the small gift shop and the pumpkins that were available for purchase in the yard, already harvested, and then we were off to the pumpkin patch!  For as late in the year as it is, there was still plenty to choose from.  We bought two large pumpkins for carving, three pie pumpkins, five small pumpkins for setting out around the house, and a large bunch of Indian corn, all for $15!  It was a great deal, well worth the drive.  I will try to post photos of our carved pumpkins in the near future.  And of course, I will be saving all of the pumpkin seeds to bake, as I have done for several years now.  Hubby enjoys the treat.  Unfortunately, he didn't get any last year, because my batch baked for a little too long in the oven :( .  This year, I vow to watch a little more closely!

Updates With Our Jobs
My husband and I have now been at our new jobs for two weeks.  We both enjoy our new positions.  Hubby is under a lot less stress, and even gets to do a little traveling from time to time!  With his last position, he wasn't allowed to go anywhere during his twelve hour shift, including getting to take a lunch break or even going to the bathroom, so he greatly enjoys his new freedom.  He has also received his first assignment, and I'm sure he will do a great jobI'm getting much more comfortable in my new job.  This is the first week that I am on my own.  I think I'm beginning to get into a routine, and that is helpful.  I enjoy making bulletin inserts and Powerpoint slides for the services.  It's fun, and I get to be somewhat creative.  In the near future I will also learn how to enter and change things on the church website, which should be interesting.  I've been interested in learning about creating websites (but not as in-depth as writing codes--ugh), so this will be a good learning experience.  Praise God for the blessings He has given us!

Congrats Are In Order
Well, a few new things to announce: my brother-in-law has landed a new job, and my sister-in-law just had her fourth child, a girl.  Congratulations to both!

Things seem to be going well right now.  But even when things are not going well in our lives, we still have to give thanks for all that we have been given, because God can use even the worst situations for His glory.  So, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever"!--Psalm 136:1


Tuesday, October 12

Faith, hope and charity

With the start of new jobs, my husband and I decided to clean out our closets and get rid of some "older" clothes before stocking our closet racks and stuffing our dresser drawers full of new garmentry.  We pulled out clothes that we didn't wear anymore, clothes that no longer fit, and clothes that we just never liked when we first bought them (what were we thinking?? purchases).  I even included some pairs of shoes that are in great shape, but that I rarely wore because after any length of time in them, my feet would start to get mad at me (nothing wrong with the shoes, but I have strange-shaped feet!).  So after filling a very large Kohl's shopping bag, the kind they reserve for when you purchase mega-items, I began to look into places that will take used clothing donations.  Now, I occasionally go through closets and pull out clothes, maybe once a year or less, and have given them to Goodwill in the past.  However, I have read stories and comments online that indicate that the reputation of workers at Goodwills are less than trustworthy when it comes to donations (i.e., keeping the nice donations for themselves in the storeroom).  Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but I would like to know that our gently-used items go to people who really need them.  This prompted me to look into various charitable organizations, and this is what I found out: there are few places that want to take these items and see that they get to the people who need them!

Salvation Army--Being a Christian organization, this non-profit organization has stores that sell donated clothing, housewares, and furniture.  The profits from these stores go toward funding the Salvation Army Rehabilitation centers and adult job training programs.  The Salvation Army holds to more conservative, Biblically-based stances on issues such as abortion and homosexuality.  What I don't like, though, is that my donations are resold, and not given to those in need.  I do like that they use the money for helping the community, though.

Goodwill--Also considered a non-profit organization, Goodwill operates stores that sell donated items as well.  They also use their store profits to train adults, some with disabilities or addictions, for jobs in the working world.  They do not seem to have a moral stance on the issues of today, but they do not claim to be affiliated with any sort of religious organization, so they would not be required to have moral standards.  Again, they resell the donations, instead of distributing them to families in need, but the money goes to a respectable cause.

PlanetAid--This one seems questionable.  We have several of these large yellow drop boxes around town, and I've always wondered about it.  In doing some Internet research (just do a Google search for "planet aid" and you'll see what I mean), there are about as many good stories as there are bad about this supposedly non-profit organization.  They do claim to donate profits from the donations received to various charities in places around the world, such as South Africa.  They also claim to aid in emergency and disaster relief, research, and natural habitat protection around the world.  However, several of the articles I have come across claim that the funds are sent to nonexistent charities and then used by the high-ups in the organization to purchase luxury items, such as houses.  I don't know if these claims are true, but I think I will personally steer clear of this one.  Do the research and make your own decision, though.

Red Cross--The American Red Cross is the famous organization founded by Clara Barton back in 1881.  They are famous for blood drives, of course.  They are known mainly as an emergency response organization, which is why I was so surprised to find out that they do not accept clothing donations at all.  I thought if anything, they would take clothing donations for families who lose their homes and belongings to fires and natural disasters, and this was the first place I looked.  They do, of course, take money, so I suppose that if you can find buyers for your items, you could donate that money if you want.  However, that's pretty much a rummage sale, and if I'm going to be doing the work, then I would probably be inclined to keep the profits!  I do think that they do great charitable work, but I'm a bit dismayed to find out that isn't exactly what I had thought it was.

Local missions and churches--Many of these places take clothing donations, but always call before packing your car with your giveaway goodies.  Some places may not need what you have, or they may have a special location for donating these items.  We tried to give away our couch several years ago.  There was nothing wrong with it, it was in fine condition (no kids or pets), and still we had a hard time finding any charity, church, or mission that would accept it.  They just simply had no need for it at the time.  To be honest, these places would be the first I would check with when it comes to wanting to give clothes directly to those in need.  Many people appeal to churches first when it comes to acquiring necessary items for living. 

If you have household items that can double as items for use by pets/stray animals, such as towels, blankets, or socks that could maybe double as scratching pads or chew toys, consider making donations to your local animal shelter, animal rescue or pound. 

With cold weather right around the corner, it's important to have warm clothing.  While I do not like the idea of giving to people who refuse to work and instead rely on welfare and the government every month, I am compelled, as a Christian, to care for those who have less than me.  That means that I am happy to give whatever I can to those who genuinely need what I have extra of in my closet or pantry.

Many people feel compelled to donate to charities, whether they are Christians or not.  I have to believe that most people have not completely lost compassion for their fellow man, although it is a fading feeling amongst us.  Christians, though, must not give in to the hardening of hearts that is going on all around them!  It is essential to take care of those around us because of our faith.  James 2:14-17 says this: "14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?  15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."  You never know when you might need to be on the receiving end!

Friday, October 8

New Beginnings

Our New Jobs
Well, it's been a long week.  Fortunately for me, I am done for the week, but hubby has one more day.  I want to say thanks again to everyone who kept us in your prayers--it was much appreciated, and certainly felt.  We are both doing well with our new jobs, which is a blessing.  Hubby has truly been enjoying his new position, perhaps partly because there has only been one or two other workers in the office with him for the week, but probably more because those people have been great to work for and with, according to him.  I'm really happy for him!  I have had quite a week, trying to learn my new job.  I will have someone there to train with me one more week, which is good--there is so much to have to remember to do on a regular basis!  But I do think that once I get the hang of things, it will be an enjoyable job.  The people are nice, and I'm working in a God-centered environment, so really, what more is there to ask for? 

Yay October!
I am truly glad that September is officially in the record books.  With the exception of our awesome trip to Gettysburg, I think I could have just done without it!  It would have been just fine.  I suppose life is like this all of the time--when it rains, it pours, so to speak, and it can apply to good or bad situations in life.  At least, that's how it's been for us!  But for everything that happens, there is a reason, even when we don't see it for ourselves, or at the time it happens.  Life is going to be full of Septembers, but what matters is how we handle them, together as a family!

One thing I do love about October is the fall-ish feel the air now has.  The chill even when the sun is shining , the smell of the leaves in the air, and the pure beauty of the world around me as the fields turn to a golden sea, waiting for harvest, and the spectrum of colors in the patches of trees along the roads and in the fields.  When skies are clear, they are the most brilliant blue, and when there are clouds, they are like puffy cotton balls, floating through the air, waiting for the sun to set so that they can reflect the final warm reds, oranges and purples of the evening before the sun disappears and brings forth another chilly night.  When the skies are gray and rainy, the thing I want to do most in the world is curl up with a steamy mug of cocoa and my best bud.  To me, this is the perfect time of year, as I wait for the first snowflakes to start falling, before I have to break out the heavy coats, gloves, and scarves, and before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season befalls us all.  I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful fall weather.  To me, it is so important to stop and appreciate what is around me, and thank the Lord that I have the privilege to be amazed by His creations, because in the grand scheme of life, we are only here fleetingly.  Enjoy what is still good in the world, because what is still good becomes less and less as time goes by.

There are many times when I find myself wondering why things happen, but when all is said and done, it really doesn't matter why, does it?  I think that it's more important to handle whatever situation I find myself in with the grace and compassion that the Lord expects of me.  When and if I do so, I become stronger in my faith!  1 Peter 1:7-9 is a great passage for this: "7These (trials) have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible  and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 

Sunday, October 3


We are back from our trip to Gettysburg!  It was wonderful.  We were there for three full days, and it took a day to get there and a day to get back.  Hubby has been there several times before, but I had never been there.  He took me around to all sorts of great places!  P. S. Click on any of the photos to see a larger image.

Day 1--Sunday
We started out around 7:30 in the morning, after a stop at Tim Horton's for a quick breakfast.  I love donuts.  Anyway, the drive was uneventful, with sunny skies and warm temps.  Even traffic wasn't too terrible.  The scenery improved dramatically as we neared Pennsylvania; I truly loved driving through the mountains!  I have decided that this area of Ohio is too flat for my taste.  I would like to buy a mountain and move it back here with me.  We took the toll roads in PA, and this was the bad part--we spent a total of $16.40 to drive on a toll road that was a construction zone for 75% of our journey.  We didn't care much for that.  However, after leaving the toll road, we drove through the mountains for an hour to get to Gettysburg, and it was a fun and beautiful drive.  I could easily pack up and move there.  Another thing that I loved about the drive was getting to see so many old farms.  As in, late 1700s to early 1800s homes.  I LOVE historic homes and farms, and there was no shortage!  I would love to live in one.  After driving through mountains and passing the old homes, we finally arrived in town around 3 p.m.  Our lodging was located right on the main street, but outside of the downtown district, which was good.  We checked in, met the innkeepers, and took our belongings up to our third floor room.  We were pretty tired, especially hubby, since he had driven to Indiana Friday to help his father tear out their kitchen cabinets in preparation for the new ones that were going to be installed, so we just rested for a while.  We decided to walk to a nearby Italian restaurant for pizza, and it wasn't that great, but that's what happens when you drive all day and still have to find something to eat when you get to where you're going!  It wasn't terrible, but we have had better pizza.  Oh well!

Day 2--Monday
We knew that rain was forecasted for Monday, so we thought we would get shopping out of the way and save the battlefield for Tuesday.  We drove out in the rain to an area with several shops that we wanted to visit, only to find that they hadn't opened yet for business, so we headed out to the Boyd's Bear factory just outside of town...it was AWESOME!!  The store has four floors total, with two full floors dedicated to Boyd's items, one floor with candles and Longaberger baskets, and the basement with three dining areas.  There was also a clearance barn accessible from the basement level.  There was every bear that you could imagine!  They had some cute Civil War-themed bears as well, but they were pricey, so none of them came home with us.  But I took pictures!  We spent about two hours there, and the majority of the time we had the store almost completely to ourselves, which was great...it was easy to look when you don't have to fight the crowds.  And yes, I did buy some bears!

After leaving the Boyd's Bears store, we headed back into town to find our shops open, finally.  It was still raining.  We went into several, then decided to get some lunch at a place called The Avenue.  We were seated at a booth that had a framed note and five dollar bill from Liam Neeson, who had apparently visited the restaurant back in 2005.  That was kind of neat!  The food was good, and they had Pibb on tap, which made hubby very happy.  After lunch, we spent the afternoon perusing the various stores and antique shops in town, and just enjoying the buildings and time together.  (By the way, two very neat antique stores are located in Gettysburg: The Union Drummer Boy and The Horse Soldier.  If you have time, check out their respective websites: http://www.uniondb.com/ and http://www.horsesoldier.com/)  We took a tour of the Shriver House as well (http://www.shriverhouse.org/Virtual_Tour.html), one of a few Confederate sharpshooter hideouts, and this was quite enjoyable.  By the later afternoon, the rain had stopped and things had begun to dry out.  We ate dinner at The Dobbin House, the oldest building in Gettysburg dating back to 1776.  The upper restaurant was pretty expensive, so we ate in the basement tavern, which is also original to the 1776 building.  It was so neat!  It was built entirely with large field stones, and had three fireplaces (none of which were in use when we were there), and was lit almost entirely by candlelight.  We had the chicken on a spit, with a garden salad, roll, and baked potato.  It's one of the dinners they are known for there...it was so good...I would love it if we could eat that everyday!

Day 3--Tuesday
Pickett's Charge Cyclorama, painting section
We took this day to explore the battlefield and new Visitor's Center.  We started in the Visitor's Center, which was built in 2008, and had purchased admission to the movie, cyclorama, and museum.  It was quite spectacular, but like most other Civil War-themed attractions, it revolved around only the slavery aspect of the war.  The movie was first, then we were moved to the cyclorama.  This was in a large round room.  There was a painting called "Pickett's Charge" that covered the entire length and height of the walls in the room, some forty feet high and almost four hundred feet in circumference, hence the term "cyclorama".  It was painted by a French artist in the 1880s and was on display in many places before coming to its permanent home in Gettysburg, where it belongs.  This part of the display consists of lights illuminating parts of the painting corresponding to the narration that is played simultaneously, so it becomes sort of like a light show in a way.  I think that was my favorite part of the whole museum.  The movie and cyclorama show took about 45 minutes, and we spent another couple of hours touring the museum.  After departing the museum, we decided to get some lunch and then head out to the battlefield!  Our innkeepers were gracious enough to lend us a CD copy of a narrated battlefield tour, and we listened to it as we went to each important battlefield point around the city.  There was a lot of information, and quite a few interesting facts.  We stopped several times while on the driving tour to get out and walk around, and hubby and I climbed a small observation tower together, then later I climbed a ten-story observation tower on my own (great view, but my legs hated me after that!), and we spent a lot of time at Little Round Top and Devil's Den, my husband's favorite places on the battlefields.  It was quite beautiful there, and the view was amazing!  My husband has been to Gettysburg several times, so he knew all of the places to go, and was so kind as to do all of the driving so that I would be able to see everything!  He's so sweet.  Another reason that I love him.  We spent quite a while there, and even returned Wednesday (more about that later).  We climbed a Pennsylvania monument, and eventually made it all through the battlefield, and it took us about five or six hours (because of all of the stops we made).  Thankfully, it turned out to be a beautiful day--the best day of our vacation, actually!  We decided eventually to eat at a restaurant called Old Eagle Grill, which I do not recommend.  It was extremely overpriced, and the food wasn't very good...I had salmon, which came covered in a tart, bitter mustardy-flavored sauce, and my husband's steak, which was supposed to be medium, was served to him very well-done.  And it was quite late by the time we went to dinner, so we didn't feel like sending it back, so we chalked it up to a bad experience and moved on.  We were exhausted!

Day 4--Wednesday
Wednesday morning, we took a trip out to a store about 20 minutes east of town called The Mannings (http://www.the-mannings.com/), which is a store for anyone who knows the arts of spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, or any other yarn or thread-related crafts.  While far out in the middle of nowhere, the drive was beautiful, with many old brick farmhouses, rolling hills in the distance, and a beautiful meandering stream, which the road followed.  We walked around the store for a while, looking at the looms, spinning wheels, and every imaginable type and color of yarn.  It was quite impressive!  I didn't buy anything, but it was still neat to see.  After that, we headed back to Gettysburg to meet up there with a college friend who was driving up from the Baltimore area to spend the day with us.  She arrived around 11 or so, and our first stop was lunch at the Dobbin House Tavern!  We dined on sandwiches by candlelight, and she fell in love with the basement area--I think it would have been just fine with her to stay down there all day!  But we took her around to some shops, then we took her out to the Little Round Top and Devil's Den area of the battlefield, and she enjoyed that.  She had never been to Gettysburg before, and so we wanted her to see at least a little of the reason that Gettysburg was so famous, and a turning point in the war.  We went up into a New York state castle-style monument, where I was violated by some kind of army bug or stink bug that flew down the back of my shirt and then fell down my pants, and came out of one of my pants legs!  I felt creepy-crawly for the rest of the day!  It was gross and I did not like it!  But the bugs were everywhere, apparently a new infestation all along the East Coast region, and while harmless, they were still big and yucky.  I survived, though.  We spent quite a bit of time showing our friend the area, and then it started raining around 5 that night.  We returned for dessert to the Dobbin House Tavern, and then sent our friend on her way home.  Later that night, we decided that we wanted something for dinner, but didn't want to go out anymore, so we ordered a pizza and had it delivered to the inn.  It was a great, and relaxing, way to end our vacation in Gettysburg.

Day 5--Thursday
Thursday morning, we rose and ate breakfast early so that we could get started on our long drive home.  We decided to take an alternate route back, to avoid the construction and cost of the toll roads, and the GPS unit said it would take only about half an hour or so longer to go that route.  That may be so, when one is not fighting the driving, pouring rains of a tropical storm!  Yes, Tropical Storm Nicole had timed her arrival for the same day as our departure.  Oh well.  My husband decided to start out the first part of our drive back, and the poor guy battled the downpours and hydroplaning through the mountains for a good three or four hours.  It was a tense drive.  He finally needed a break, and we stopped at a McDonald's not too far from the Ohio border, to use bathrooms, take a break, and get something to eat.  When we got back on the road, I took over the driving, and as luck would have it, it turned out that here we had found the edge of the storm.  I drove for about five minutes before the rains quit, and the rest of the drive was dry!  Good times!  It still took us quite a bit of time to get home, and we needed a break around 7 that night, so we stopped in Mansfield and walked around Target to stretch our legs, then get dinner and get back on the road.  We got home finally about 9 that night, after waaay too many hours on the road.  I loved our trip, and I loved spending that time with my husband, but the only thing I really didn't like was the long drive there and back. But even with the long drive, it was still great to see the beauty of the mountains, and the scenery was worth the time it took to get there.  I do hope to go again!

The Keystone Inn
We have always had great luck with bed and breakfast establishments, and this one was no different.  We stayed at the Keystone Inn Bed and Breakfast (http://www.keystoneinnbb.com/), which was on one of the main roads through Gettysburg, but just far enough from the center of town to be peaceful and out of the way.  It is a beautiful Victorian home, built in 1913, and it was comfortable and homey, with beautiful original woodwork, tall ceilings, and fall decorations.  The innkeepers, Mike and Marj Day, were very kind and hospitable, and were more than happy to answer our questions and offer their opinions about what attractions were worth seeing while we were there.  Every morning, at 8 a.m. and again at 9 a.m., they served a wonderful three course breakfast, starting with a fresh-baked muffin or breakfast cake, then a bowl of fresh fruit, then the main course that ranged from a delicious ham, egg and cheese casserole to blueberry pancakes with bacon to french toast with sausage, and a selection of juices as well.  It was the best breakfast that I've ever had at a B&B!  Everything was made fresh each day by Mike.  The Days would also come out and chat with whoever was eating, which was nice too.  We were staying there with several other couples, and they all seemed nice and seemed like they truly enjoyed their stay there.  If anyone is planning to head out that way, I highly recommend staying here.  I believe it to be, by far, one of your best lodging options in the area!

So, this was our vacation.  Now we have to head back to our work, and our normal lives, and that's always a little sad.  But this was probably one of the most enjoyable vacations that I've ever experienced, and I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to have such a great time with the man I love!

The friendliness and hospitality we encountered on our vacation was wonderful, and this was a large part of the reason that we were able to relax and just enjoy our time there together.  My husband quoted a verse while we were there, and it seems appropriate for ending our vacation story: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."--Hebrews 13:2